Foods and Drugs to Avoid With Hepatitis C

Your liver is like your body's chemical processing plant. One of its many jobs is to filter or break down anything you take into your body. If you have hepatitis C, though, it may not work as well. Things may stay in your system too long and affect you more. They may actually injure your liver.

To avoid problems like that, you might need to change what you eat and drink and the kinds of supplements and drugs you take.

Alcohol, Illegal Drugs, and Cigarettes

Don't drink any alcohol unless your doctor says it's OK. It can speed up damage to your liver cells.

Recreational drugs in general are no good for your liver. For example, marijuana may lead to faster liver scarring. And using a needle to inject substances can raise your odds of getting reinfected with hep C.

If you're a smoker, you need to quit. It can make you more likely to get liver cancer. Talk to your doctor about ways to quit.

Medications

If you have cirrhosis (liver scarring) from hepatitis C, you need to be very careful about the meds you take. The doses of some medications will need to be adjusted, and some should be avoided completely.

Things to avoid include:

  • Acetaminophen 
  • NSAIDs
  • Sleeping pills or tranquilizers

Whatever stage of hepatitis C you have, make sure to:

  • Share a list of all your prescription and over-the-counter drugs with your medical team.
  • Make sure all your doctors know you have hep C.
  • Take as few medications as you can.
  • Carefully read the ingredient list of your over-the-counter drugs. Acetaminophen is in many cold and flu medications. It's also in most painkillers labeled "non-aspirin."
  • Always take your meds exactly as your doctor recommends.

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Supplements and Herbs

Talk to your doctor before taking any of these if you have hepatitis C. Some of them may cause severe liver injury.

It's also important to keep in mind that supplements and herbs aren't regulated by the FDA the way medications are. They don't go through the same tough testing to see if they're safe and effective.

Some common natural products that can be risky for your liver are:

  • Chaparral
  • Jin Bu Huan
  • Germander
  • Comfrey, mate, and Gordolobo yerba teas
  • Mistletoe
  • Skullcap
  • Pennyroyal (squaw mint oil)
  • Margosa oil
  • Kava
  • Yohimbe

Weight loss products can also harm your liver. So can large doses of vitamin and mineral supplements, including:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

Foods

In general, good nutrition may help your liver form new cells. But if you have hepatitis C, there are some foods to avoid or eat less of.

Raw oysters or shellfish. They can have bacteria that give you serious infections that are more severe if you have hep C.

Fatty, sugary foods. They can stress your liver or lead to fat deposits in it.

Salty foods. Avoid these if you have fluid buildup in your belly or legs.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on October 14, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

Project Inform: "Towards a healthy liver."

CDC: "Hepatitis C: Living with Chronic Hepatitis C."

American College of Gastroenterology: "Medications and the Liver."

HCRC VA Hepatitis C Resource Centers: "Cirrhosis: A Patient's Guide."

Hepatitis Foundation International: "Caution! Herbs and Nutritional Supplements."

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: "What I need to know about cirrhosis."

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